Abby Martin’s Empire Update wraps up the last week in US imperialism: Biden breaks major campaign promise to punish Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi murder; US & France extend war in Africa; Bolivia and Venezuela defy US Empire; major bloodshed on the horizon in Afghanistan.
The class struggle in the United States is in limbo. So many Americans are struggling amid declining living standards and are angry at the system, yet they aren’t rebelling like the people in France, Chile, and other deteriorated neoliberal countries have recently been doing. Where are the mass protests? Where are the general strikes? Understanding why an American class revolt still hasn’t manifested is key to understanding how it can be brought about.
US President Donald Trump’s pardon of three military officers who were convicted of committing war crimes has drawn criticism. Former New York Times war correspondent and “On Contact” host Chris Hedges weighs in. He also discusses the Times’ coverage of an alleged leak of Iranian intelligence cables.
Screenshot by Dandelion Salad via Flickr Watch the video below
“The Paris Commune of 1871 was one of the greatest and most inspiring episodes in the history of the working class. In a tremendous revolutionary movement, the working people of Paris replaced the capitalist state with their own organs of government and held political power until their downfall in the last week of May. The Parisian workers strove, in extremely difficult circumstances, to put an end to exploitation and oppression, and to reorganise society on an entirely new foundation. 130 years later the lessons of these events are of fundamental importance for socialists today.” — Greg Oxely, The Paris Commune of 1871, May 16, 2001
In What Is To Be Done of 1902 Lenin opposed revolutionary spontaneity because it “strips away the disciplined nature of the Marxists idea of revolution, leaving it arbitrary and ineffective.” True to himself, Lenin then returned to opposition to spontaneous revolution after WWI during the German Revolution of 1918-19 when in a spontaneous uprising against the post-WWI system Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacist League failed in an attempt to overturn German capitalism.
The “Christmas Truce of 1914” was a short-lived, unofficial lull in combat between two antagonistic rival forces, determined to exercise military, political and economic supremacy over each other in Europe and in the colonized world, to which these imperial powers lay arrogant false claim. One of the bloodiest episodes in human history, World War I was largely played out on the battle-scarred lands of France and Belgium, starting in August of 1914.
World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the centennial anniversary ending World War I. In an absurd way, the Napoleon-era arc was a fitting venue – because the ceremony and the rhetoric from President Emmanuel Macron was a “triumph” of lies and platitudes.
Five years ago, the British Parliament said no to an attack on Syria that its prime minister wanted to join the U.S. president in launching. That action, combined with public pressure, was instrumental in getting the U.S. Congress to make clear that it would say no as well, were it absolutely forced to — you know — admit it existed and do anything at all. And that was key to preventing the attack.
A five-meter tall resplendent Quadriga sculpture tops the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Wellington Arch in London, The Bolshoy Theater in Moscow, the Victor Emmanuel Monument in Rome, and other important structures elsewhere. Quadriga is a Latin word (quad=square plus yoke or iugum), the name of the two-wheel chariot drawn by four horses (not three as the Russian Troika) yet harnessed abreast, one beside the other, projecting an image of unusual power. The four-horse Quadriga was used in chariot races by Greeks, Romans and Byzantines and its drivers, the charioteers, were popular heroes like Formula One race drivers today. Some were even driven by gods and the Quadriga image was used also on coins. So the Quadriga became a symbol of war, victory and also the peace following a military victory.
I read a Facebook post by an American Liberal comparing the refusal of the French Far-Leftist Jean-Luc Melanchon to choose between Emmanuel Macron and the rightist Marine Le Pen as President of France to the Left’s rejection of the German Social Democrats on the eve of WWI, resulting, ultimately, in the emergence of Naziism. He cited other similar cases where Communists of the 1920s and 1930s who refused to distinguish between the far right and those “insufficiently to the left”, ie. Social Democrats, thus paving the way for the fascist right and the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. He cites also the case of Fausto Bertinotti in Italy who withdrew his support for the center-left government of Romano Prodi and paved the road for the disastrous return to power in Rome of Silvio Berlusconi. This indeed sad history is compared to the choice (non-choice) between Clinton and Trump. And thus the nightmare of Trump in the White House.
In this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges explores capitalism in crisis with Richard Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. From Brexit, to labor protests in France, to Italy’s financial woes, they discuss the effects of austerity on the working class. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at the fallout of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.